Monthly Archives: May 2005

Walking Tour Report

Report on the May 22, 2005, CB 7 Community Walking Tour

ImageOn Sunday, May 22, approximately 65 East Windsor Terrace neighbors
and friends of Kensington Stables met with Jeremy Laufer, Randy Peers,
and Joseph Longobardi, members of Community Board 7, City Councilmember
Bill de Blasio, and Richard Bearak, Deputy Director of Zoning &
Housing Development at Borough President Marty Markowitz’s offiice, for
a walking tour of proposed building sites in the neighborhood.

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Neigbhors gather to hear list of concerns

Our meeting kicked off with Nick Bedell reading a list of community
“demands” that were warmly received. Starting with the maxim, “smaller
is better,” the demands are a working list for the EWTCG to discuss and
further refine as we work with city government to protect and shape our
neighborhood. (Nick–send a copy so we can put it up on the site!)

The walking tour moved from site to site and discussed
zoning and other issues at each stop. Here is a summary of the
afternoon.

 

 

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Richard Bearak of Brooklyn Borough Prez’s office

Site 1: 23 Caton Place, north side
The north side of Caton Place between E 8 St and Ocean Pky, former
Little Grey Barn stable and tire warehouse building, is slated to
become a high rise apartment with 107 units to be built by architect
Karl Fischer. The building site is zoned R7A, which allows for this
type of construction. As the builders did not need to seek a variance,
there was no hearing related to the proposed construction. However, as
a group, we must act as watchdogs to make sure that the developers act
responsibly. CALL 311 for any and all infractions and get a complaint
number. We can hold developers to the letter of the law if we are
vigilant and, hopefully, we can influence them to work with us rather
than against us in the process. As it happens, one of the site owners,
who is often on Caton Place in his SUV, was parked nearby as we met.
Mr. de Blasio spoke with him and invited him to speak with the group,
but he declined and made a call to his partner who he said might join
us to speak later (he did not). He did show the architectural plans to
some of the people standing around. It is unknown whether these plans
are finalized or whether there is some time for the community to seek
concessions from the developer. As of this writing the plans were not
available at the DOB.

Residents who live near construction sites, take note: document the
condition of your apartment or house now. Photograph current cracks,
etc. If damage occurs during demolition and construction, you will need
to be able to prove it.

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City Councilmember Bill de Blasio

Site 2: 22 Caton Place, south side
The south side of Caton Place, site of the former chalkboard factory
across the street from Site 1, has been bought by developers who are
seeking a zoning variance to build a high rise residence larger than
current zoning allows. Because of this, we have the opportunity to get
involved in the review process from the CB level through the City
Council. The process is long and difficult; zoning rulings often favor
developers–who are experienced with the system–over community groups
who are learning as they go. However, we can have a voice if we are
organized. Richard Bearak, from Markowitz’s office, suggested that we
open dialogues with developers. It is possible that developers would
respect our wishes for the neighborhood and expedite govenment process
as well. But in order to do this, we need to be clear about what we
want for the neighborhood.

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Kermit Place and Coney Island Avenue

Site 3: 364 Coney Island Avenue, corner of Kermit Place
The corner lot, currently empty save for some trucks, and including the
former ice cream and bbq stands, is owned by Kermit Square LLC, who
sought a variance from CB 7 to build a high rise residential building
similar to the one going up at 350 CIA (site 4, discussed below). The
variance was denied by CB 7,which suggested to the builders that they
come up with a commercial plan in line with the current C8-2 zoning of
the site. Randy Peers, chair of CB 7’s land use committee, suggested
that contextual residential buildings–two- or three-story
buildings–would be acceptable to CB 7, as well. Again, we need to
decide as a community group what kind of development we want in the
neighborhood. This would be a good site for discussion with the
developers, as they have not proposed another plan yet.

Site 4: 350 Coney Island Ave, between Caton Place and Kermit Place
Currently under construction, this will be an 9-story apartment
building. The developer had originally applied for a variance to build
a 12-story building, which was denied by CB 7. They suggested that the
developers return with a revised 7-story building. Instead, the City
Council approved their plan for the 9-story building going up.

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Building now demolished; lot for sale

Site 5: 701-711 Caton Ave, north side
What is happening on the large empty lot currently holding construction
equipment and garden supplies? Nobody seems to know for sure! CB 7 has
not been apprised of any plans yet and has agreed to look up the
current owners for us. The site is currently zoned R6, which most of us
at the meeting think is wrong for the street and the neighborhood. If
we favor a change, we need to decide what we want and talk to the
owners. If they have no concrete plans for the site, perhaps they will
be open to our ideas.

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Vacant lot on Caton Avenue

NEXT STEPS
The walking tour was educational and invigorating for those who
attended. There is alot for us to do cooperatively if we are to succeed
in keeping our neighborhood safe, cute, and quiet. Here are some next
steps:

* Join the Yahoo! Group, StableBrooklyn. Though not everyone uses
email, it is an extraordinarily effective way to communicate and
organize. The more of us who are on the list, the more informed we’ll
all be. Start an email thread!

* Organize a leadership meeting. Lots of discussion was generated
about committees that would concentrate on monitoring the different
building sites and the stable itself; on resident issues for renters,
co-op and condo owners, and homeowners; on functions like publicity,
development oversight and review, rezoning process, safety and
neighborhood beautification, etc. We propose to hold a meeting in early
June for people willing to define and lead a committee. Come prepared
to organize and volunteer to take something on! Details on the meeting
forthcoming.* Coordinate monthly EWTCG meetings. Among other things, we need to
organize “telephone trees” on a block or building level, with
individuals responsible for putting up flyers and letting their
neighbors know about meetings, events, etc. Next meeting TBA!

* Attend other meetings.
–Marty Markowitz’s “town hall” meeting is May 31 at Marine Park Middle School.
–CB 7 land use committee meeting is June 6–time / place TBA.

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Neighbors listening during walking tour

* Deliver our petition to officials. To date, we have over 100
signatures to our petition. We will deliver copies of the petitions to
CB 7, Mayor Bloomberg, Marty Markowitz, Amanda Burden of the Dept. of
City Planning, Bill de Blasio, and State Assemblyman Jim Brennan soon.
You can read the petition at www.stablebrooklyn.com.
If you are still collecting signatures, please drop off your petitions
at 51 Kermit Place by 5/31/05 so we can bring them to Mr. Markowitz
personally.

Thanks to everyone for a very important and successful walking tour
of East Windsor Terrace. Please use the Yahoo Group for corrections and
comments or email ewtcg@stablebrooklyn.com.

Respectfully submitted,
June Reich

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